ALA Executive Briefing
April 8, 2011

Obama weighs shuffle of top national security posts
Agence France-Presse via Yahoo News
As President Barack Obama weighs who should take over key defense posts, recently media speculated that his war commander in Afghanistan might lead the CIA while the current spy chief would move to the Pentagon. The scenario, possibly a trial balloon floated by some military officials, highlights the tough choices Obama faces with a number of crucial national security jobs — including defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — coming open in the next several months.More

Pentagon expects smaller budget in 2012
The Hill
Defense officials expect "increasing pressure" in coming months to trim the Pentagon's $553 billion 2012 spending request, driven in part by an expected cut to its 2011 budget. Hours after the House Appropriations Committee unveiled a $515 billion 2011 defense spending measure, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley recently acknowledged that "a smaller baseline for 2011" will affect how much lawmakers give the Pentagon in 2012.More

Defense contractors make hiring veterans a priority
The Washington Post
Operation IMPACT, as the Northrop program is called, has hired about 85 veterans since its inception in 2004, most of them within the last three years. It's among multiple veteran-focused hiring initiatives run by area defense contractors who say they want to support former service members and access the skills and values taught in the military.More

Costs of Libya operation already piling up
National Journal
With U.N. coalition forces bombarding Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi from the sea and air, the United States' part in the operation could ultimately hit several billion dollars — and require the Pentagon to request emergency funding from Congress to pay for it.More

Eric Cantor wants YOU to cut the defense budget
The Cable
With the United States embroiled in three wars and global instability on the rise, the House GOP is entrenched in an internal battle over whether to push for cuts to the defense budget next year. The battle pits the head of the Armed Services Committee against tea party freshmen, with the House GOP leadership caught squarely in the middle.More

China lays out vision for military
The New York Times
The Chinese military recently said that while the security situation in Asia and the Pacific was generally stable, it was becoming "more intricate and volatile," with no clear solutions for tension points like the divided Korean Peninsula and with the United States increasing its involvement in regional issues.More

Commissaries in Japan adjust hours, increase supplies in earthquake aftermath
U.S. Air Force
Commissaries in Japan are partnering with U.S. installations there to provide whatever support possible in the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and other subsequent events affecting service members and their families. The Defense Commissary Agency has 15 stores in Japan — 11 on the Japanese mainland and four on Okinawa. Within hours of the natural disaster, all of the stores opened and began working with their local military commander to adjust operating hours as needed and meet the needs of the military community.More

A&P shows appreciation for seniors
Drug Store News
Grocer A&P is launching a discount program that offers seniors savings on groceries purchased at A&P, Pathmark, Waldbaum's, Food Emporium and Superfresh banner stores. Through the program, every Monday, customers older than 55 years will be able to save 5 percent on their grocery purchases of more than $30, excluding pharmacy items, milk, tobacco products, beer, wine and spirits.More

Whole Foods, the greenest grocery store in the world
The Whole Foods store in Dedham, Mass., just may be the greenest grocery store in the world. This showcase facility demonstrates leading energy and sustainability practices to Whole Food customers, employees and investors, as well as the local community.More

A&P stores roll out enhanced kosher selection
PG Meat Retailing
In the first phase of an initiative to boost kosher product variety and quality across its metro New York-area stores, the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. Inc. debuted a greatly expanded selection of Passover holiday staples. Through April 28, Passover shoppers at select A&P, Pathmark, Waldbaum's and Food Emporium stores in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will find new and improved Kosher grocery selections for all their holiday shopping needs.More

Whole grain stamp appears on 5,000 products in 22 countries
Gourmet Retailer
The black-and-gold Whole Grain Stamp now appears on 5,000 products on grocery shelves around the world. The number of products sporting the stamp, administered by the nonprofit Whole Grains Council and Oldways, has jumped 25 percent in nine months from 4,000 products in July 2010.More

US, Mexico food safety priority grows
The Packer
Mexican produce shippers and their U.S.-based importers are eager to show consumers that Mexican growers have the same food safety standards as those north of the Rio Grande. At a March 31 workshop on food safety at the America Trades Produce conference, Oscar Morales Galvan, a representative from SENASICA, the Mexican government's food safety division, said more Mexican growers are working with third-party food safety auditors than ever before.More

Associated Wholesale Grocers adding nutrition keys on store-brand products
PG Store Brands
Associated Wholesale Grocers, a Kansas City, Kan.-based retailer-owned cooperative and distributor of the Best Choice and Always Save private-label food products, said it is embracing the voluntary front-of-pack nutrition labeling initiative in conjunction with the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association. Nutritional information soon will be added to the front of the Best Choice and Always Save packaging, where it can be easily spotted, the company said.More

Exchange to continue operations despite potential government shutdown

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service is planning to continue operations even if the U.S. Government shuts down.

On April 9, the current budget authorization will expire. At that point, the federal government potentially will institute a mandatory shutdown for "non-essential" personnel.

While this action affects the government, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service is largely unaffected. The Exchange is a non-appropriated fund instrumentality. This means the majority of its budget does not rely on tax dollars.

"While the federal government shuts down, business at the Exchange remains largely unchanged. However, some transactions may be delayed, such as the purchase of firearms which require background checks or other federal government actions," said Col. Virgil Williams, chief of staff for the Exchange.

As a matter of course, the Department of Defense plans for contingencies. In fact, since 1980, all agencies have had to have a plan in case of a government shutdown, and these plans are updated routinely.

"The Exchange will do everything we have to do to continue to support the deployed troops," Williams saidMore

Pentagon names homes for new aviation brigades

Washington, Alaska will split the 16th Combat Unit; Colorado gets new brigade

The Department of Defense recently announced the stationing of two Army Combat Aviation Brigades. The 16th Combat Aviation Brigade will be split-based and established at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., and Fort Wainwright, Alaska, using existing aviation units not currently assigned to a combat aviation brigade. A new combat aviation brigade will be activated at Fort Carson, Colo.

The 16th's stationing action realigns existing assets, resulting in an increase of approximately 1,400 new soldiers and 44 helicopters at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Wash. This action for the split-based CAB at Joint Base Lewis-McChord will begin in fiscal year 2012 and is expected to be completed by fiscal year 2014.

The Army recognizes Alaska as a strategic location and will continue to maintain a significant aviation presence there. This stationing increases the invaluable medical evacuation strength in Alaska by three additional aircraft in fiscal year 2013. It also validates the Army's commitment and support to the aviation infrastructure through military construction programmed for replacement and upgrade of the aviation facilities.

The new brigade activation at Fort Carson will result in a total growth in Army forces and equipment by approximately 2,700 soldiers and 113 helicopters. Fort Carson establishes the new brigade beginning fiscal year 2013 and is expected to be completed by fiscal year 2014.

The activation of these brigades will increase the capabilities of the active component of the U.S. Army and increase dwell time for aviation units between deployments in support of overseas contingency operations. These combined force structure actions represent integrated changes that support the Army's transformation requirements.More tops customer service rankings
USA Today, Kohl's Department Stores and Costco Wholesale are kings of customer service. Whether via Twitter, Facebook, their corporate websites, phone support or in person, they ranked 1-2-3 in customer interaction, according to a new research report published by market researcher Temkin Group.More

Home Depot's weather-based ads
Today's Garden Center
Ever wonder how Home Depot is all over the television right at the perfect time? Much of the advertising is based on the weather in specific regions. Even the "Spring Black Friday" rollouts are timed in different regions based on anticipated weather.More

HSN makes its beauty mark in the world of boundary-less shopping
Los Angeles Times
When Home Shopping Network changed its name to HSN several years ago, it was going for a catchier, more modern moniker. But the name change also portended changes in the way consumers interact with, shop and purchase from this and other companies.More

Wal-Mart weighs major appliances in Texas
Chicago Sun-Times
Wal-Mart Stores in Texas are considering selling stoves, refrigerators, washing machines and other large appliances in an experiment that could presage the retailer's entry into the white-goods market, observers say. Retail analyst Budd Bugatch told The Wall Street Journal that 75 or more products are expected to be set up for display in certain stores.More

Editorial: In 'swipe fees' fight, retailers make better case
USA Today
Every time you use a debit or credit card, you shell out an invisible sales tax in the range of 1 to 3 percent. That's how much retailers have to pay the banks that issue the plastic.More

Target scans mobile coupons
Supermarket News
For food retailers, coupons on mobile phones present two problems: The cashier needs an image scanner to scan the 2-D coupon bar code — most grocers use laser scanners not suited for this purpose — and multiple coupons take too long to scan individually. Last year, Target overcame both of those issues by employing image scanners at the checkouts in its 1,800 stores and by adopting a mobile coupon system.More

Post-recession consumers find ways to stretch dollars
Progressive Grocer
U.S. consumers emerged from the recession practiced at stretching their dollars, and now faced with rising food costs, they are turning to the cost-saving tactics they've mastered over the past few years. That's according to data from the NPD Group's Economy Tracker, which monitors consumer sentiment about the economy and spending.More

Walmart expects major inflation
USA Today
U.S. consumers face "serious" inflation in the months ahead for clothing, food and other products, the head of Walmart's U.S. operations warned. The world's largest retailer is working with suppliers to minimize the effect of cost increases and believes its low-cost business model will position it better than its competitors. Still, inflation is "going to be serious," Walmart CEO Bill Simon said. "We're seeing cost increases starting to come through at a pretty rapid rate." More

CSNews exclusive: Chevron aims to grow retail operations in the west
Convenience Store News
The winds of change blew through Chevron last year as the San Ramon, Calif.-based oil giant reorganized to the tune of nearly a 12 percent job cut in its downstream oil refinery business (equivalent to more than a 3 percent overall company work force job cut), numerous executive job changes and the withdrawal of its motor fuels operations in some areas of the Eastern United States. But how did this affect its retail business?More

Poised for growth
Supermarket News
As most paper-based communications — letters, bills, newspapers, magazines, books — continue their steady transition to digital form, can coupons be far behind? Currently, paper is still king of the coupon kingdom, with digital a bit player.More

Stay tuned for ALA Exchange members Vendor Day Event
The 2011 Dallas Exchange Roundtable vendor 'one on one session' experienced was a new focus this year, and was so successful that AAFES and NEXCOM want to do it again in Virginia Beach and Dallas depending on participation. Early thoughts: the event will be limited to 75 ALA members or less at each event. We will plan a buying overview and discussion session, followed with one on one time with your favorite buyer.More

US Army MWR history
Although the United States Army was founded in 1775, morale, welfare and recreation programs did not exist for the Army until the start of the 20th century. Before that time, troop support came informally in the form of tradesmen and trading posts. The goods they were able to provide included meals, clothing and laundering.More

MWR philosophy
Soldiers are entitled to the same quality of life as is afforded the society they are pledged to defend. Keeping an Army ready to fight and win takes more than hard work and training. Soldiers need a balance of work and play. The FMWRC mission is to create and maintain "First Choice" MWR products and services for America's Army, essential to a ready, self-reliant force.More

DOD supports families departing Japan
Family Matters Blog
Recently, Dr. Clifford L. Stanley, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, wrote a blog post about the comprehensive support effort under way in response to the recent devastating events in Japan. Supporting an effort of this magnitude takes many hands across personnel and readiness. More